Side With Florida (-31.5) With Your College Football Picks vs. Florida Atlantic

Willie Bee

Thursday, November 19, 2015 10:46 PM GMT

Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 10:46 PM GMT

It is 'SEC-esta' week in the Southeastern Conference where six mismatches are on the college football betting slate.  One of those pits the Florida Gators against Florida Atlantic.

Each team in the SEC has already enjoyed its bye week. Still, it's hard to look at the Week 12 college football betting card and not think about a half-dozen teams from the conference getting a second bye.

As in bye-bye Idaho on the road at Auburn. Bye-bye Charleston Southern in Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. And bye-bye Florida Atlantic Owls who are in Gainesville for a clash against the Florida Gators.

The Gators and Owls are the first of six lopsided matchups in the conference to get underway, the 12 PM (ET) boot part of Saturday's lineup on the SEC Network. One person noted a earlier this season they might as well call Week 12 'SEC-esta' and the college football odds certainly suggest that's what it will be for Florida and the other five hosting patsies.

Bookmaker started this one with the Gators laying 31 points, that spread now up half a tick at the sportsbook. The total began at 46½ and remains on that number while showing little signs of any movement.

It's the third meeting between the two schools, the previous two also taking place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida won them both, and managed to cover each time with a slightly higher spread. The most recent matchup was a little more than four years ago when the Gators rolled up over 700 yards of offense to win by a 41-3 count despite three turnovers. The totals split in the prior two encounters.

 

Owls With Plenty Of Problems On Both Sides Of The Ball
When the Gators met Florida Atlantic (2-8 straight up, 3-6-1 against the spread) previously, Howard Schnellenberger was running the show in Boca Raton. The Owls are on their third head coach since Schnellenberger retired following the 2011 season, and it has been a rough two years for current boss Charlie Partridge who owns a 5-17 record at FAU.

About the only bright spot this season was a 31-17 win on Halloween over rival Florida International. The mild upset came as 2 point home underdogs, the Owls amassing nearly 400 yards of offense in building a 17-zip advantage in that contest.

They have since dropped two straight to Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State, providing a return for their backers in the loss to the Hilltoppers. Pick just about any defensive statistic, and you'll find Florida Atlantic in the bottom third of the rankings. The Owls aren't exactly tearing it up on offense, either, ranking 105th in scoring (22.3 ppg), though that has played well for 'under' bettors who have cashed the last four times out, and seven of 10 games on the season.

 

How Long Will McElwain Let His Starters Go?
Having already locked up the SEC West title, we expect Florida (9-1 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) to use this game simply as a tune-up for next week's big game against Florida State from the ACC and, eventually, the SEC Championship two weeks from now. That's a luxury that Jim McElwain is no doubt smiling about in his first season with the Gators.

Florida's strength lies on defense where the Gators rank in the top 10 nationally in total yards allowed, rushing yards, passing yards and scoring where they've surrendered just over 14 points a game on average (4th). There's a long list of walking wounded on the defensive line, most notably Jonathan Bullard who is questionable with an arm injury. Don't expect to see many of the 1st-stringers on either side of the ball too long.

The Owls also have a few key injuries and should be extra thin in the backfield where Trey Rodriguez (shoulder) and Jay Warren (hip) are questionable. That leaves sophomores Greg Howell and Marcus Clark to carry the load against this tough Florida defense on what should be an overcast, muggy day in Gainesville where the thermometer will climb to about 80º during the game.

Laying this many points is never a lot of fun, but in this case, it's warranted to go with the Gators for my free college football pick.

College Football Picks: Florida -31.5 at Bookmaker

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